The New Giants of Container Shipping
As of 1 January 2018, 451 ultra-large containerships (ULCS) were operating, while another 129 were on order for delivery into 2020, according to container sector credit risk analyst DynaLiner.
A report from the analyst has revealed how many containerships with a nominal container capacity of 10,000 TEU and over are waiting in the shipyards and moving trade throughout the seas.
Many of these vessels were born after a recovery in carrier companies’ profits, fuelled by consolidation and the need for new ships to replace aging and less environmentally friendly and economical fleets.
DynaLiner has found that all ULCS larger than 18,000 TEU — also referred to as MegaMax ships — invariably operate in the high-density North Europe-Far East trade.
The average capacity of all ships of all sizes currently operating over these trade routes is 15,000 TEU.
On a global scale, DynaLiner has found that Switzerland-based MSC, the second largest containership company by fleet capacity, deploys a fleet of 90 ULCS — the largest in the sector.
The carrier also has the most on order, with 11 ships of 23,350 TEU still to come.
Denmark-based Maersk, the largest of all carriers and the inventor, initiator and developer of the ULCS with its 15,500 TEU “Emma Maersk” — initially rated at 11,000 TEU when launched in August 2006, has come in second with 86 existing vessels, of which 13 inherited from its recent Hamburg Süd acquisition.
The Danes have eleven units on order, including six of 20,600 TEU each.
Chinese-state-owned Cosco Shipping Line currently uses 67 ULCS, which will be joined by another 29 units over the next two years.
A total of 22 existing units and twenty-seven being built come from 2016 incorporated China Shipping.
Cosco Shipping's example of a 10,000-plus TEU vessel
Finally, of the biggest ULCS operators, the French CMA CGM presently deploys 74 such ships, including 20 originating from APL.
Its order book comprises nine 22,850 TEU leviathans, which are bound to become the first ever LNG-powered ULCS.
Thanks to its takeover of UASC and its 22 ULCS, German-based Hapag-Lloyd is leading the next tier with 45 ships.
However, it has nothing on order.
With its capacity of 19,900 TEU, the “Barzan” is a container giant – Hapag-Lloyd has six ships of this class in its fleet. Credit: Hapag-Lloyd
Hapag-Lloyd is followed by ONE, which will form through a merger of Japanese carriers K Line, MOL and NYK on April 1, 2018.
A primary function for ONE will be to reduce costs by cutting out duplicated sailings
Taiwan-based Evergreen has 31 ULCS operating and in the pipeline, with 20 more being contemplated.
Yang Ming, also based in Taiwan, has 21, with six units being built for the account of non-operating owners.
Come February 2018, another 10 or so ULCS will have been delivered and added to the existing fleet, with the total number remaining unchanged.
Read more: 'The World's Largest Container Carriers', a technical paper by Dirk Visser, Senior Shipping Consultant, Managing Editor Publications & DynaLiners, Dynamar, documented that the top 25 carriers' overall share of global capacity had reached 85% in January 2017